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CNN NEWSROOM

Condoleezza Rice Pressing Asian Allies on North Korean Sanctions; Iraq on Track to Have Deadliest Month of War; Mark Foley Fallout

Aired October 18, 2006 - 11:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: You're with CNN. You're informed.
Good morning, everyone. I'm Tony Harris.

HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, everybody. I'm Heidi Collins.

Developments keep coming in to the NEWSROOM on this Wednesday, October 18th. And here now is what's on the rundown.

Dow stocks, high rollers. Today the benchmark index cracking 12,000 for the very first time.

HARRIS: The top American diplomat pressing Asian allies on North Korean sanctions. Condoleezza Rice looking for aggressive enforcement.

COLLINS: And October on track to be one of the bloodiest months yet for U.S. Troops in Iraq. Ten new deaths to report in the NEWSROOM.

HARRIS: The North Korea threat. Here is what we know this hour.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is in Japan, the first stop of her Asian trip. She's trying to cement support for United Nations sanctions against North Korea and its defiant nuclear test. Her visit comes with new concerns. We're told activity suggests North Korea could be preparing for a second nuclear test.

Tomorrow Rice travels to South Korea, then it is on to China and Russia.

CNN uniquely positioned to bring you the latest on this developing story.

Our Zain Verjee is the only television correspondent traveling with the secretary of state on her trip to Asia. She's in Tokyo.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ZAIN VERJEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is in Asia. One of her goals is to try and get the regional powers here to really take action and to implement the United Nations Security Council resolution that basically slapped sanctions against North Korea. Japan has been feeling increasingly threatened since North Korea tested its nuclear device. Secretary Rice is here in the region really to reassure Japan, saying the U.S. stands by you, the alliance is strong.

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: I reaffirm the president's statement of October 9th that the United States has the will and the capability to meet the full range -- and I underscore full range -- of its deterrent and security commitments to Japan.

VERJEE: Another major concern here is that Japan will eventually want to go nuclear. Japan's foreign minister this day at a press conference saying look, that's just not going to happen. The other thing that Secretary Rice wants to accomplish on this trip is to get the regional powers to take some real tough action against North Korea in terms of inspecting ships that may be carrying suspicious cargo going in and out of North Korea.

It may be easier to get Japan on board. China and South Korea, though, may be tougher for Secretary Rice to do so. China and South Korea both feel that it may be dangerous to interdict ships, they may result in military skirmishes. Both countries also are concerned that if they push North Korea too hard, it may result in a collapse, and it may destabilize the region, and they will be the ones left to handle it.

Zain Verjee, CNN, Tokyo.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIS: So over the last few years, no luck on the diplomatic front in trying to convince North Korea to back away from its nuclear plans. Six-party talks stalled last November. The negotiations were aimed at getting the north to abandon its nuclear program in exchange for aid and security guarantees. The talks have been on again and off again since 2003.

The host, China, North Korea's closest ally and biggest supplier of food and energy. Other countries involved, the U.S., Russia, which shares a border with North Korea, Japan, and South Korea, a country that's had an uneasy truce with the north for more than half a century now. North Korea walked out on the talks nearly a year ago to protest U.S. sanctions on its alleged illicit financial activities.

COLLINS: Ten more U.S. troops killed in Iraq in what's on track to be one of the deadliest months of the war.

CNN's Arwa Damon reporting now live from Baghdad.

Arwa, a lot going on in Balad. What are they doing there to deal with the violence, in particular?

ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Heidi, what they have done -- and we are just receiving very dramatic images from that area of civilians fleeing. An armed gunmen appearing to be acting at will on the streets there. What we are hearing right now, though, is that the main Sunni and Shia tribes have come together to bring an end to the sectarian violence that flared up there, essentially beginning on Friday, what happened on Friday. And now Balad is a predominantly Shia city. It is some 50 miles north of the capital, Baghdad. The Shia community is located mainly in the center of the city. On the outskirts is a Sunni community, and it is surrounded by Sunni towns.

What happened on Friday is that the bodies of 19 Shia workers were found in one of the Sunni villages. The following day, in what is believed to be an act of retaliation, the bodies of 38 Sunnis -- Sunnis were found -- that's right.

So we're seeing this tit-for-tat violence. Now in an effort to bring this all under control first, the U.S. and Iraqi security forces flooded that area. Following that, we are hearing of meetings taking place between leading Sunni and Shia tribal leaders there, all in an effort to try to bring this under control -- Heidi.

COLLINS: A lot of discussion now as of late whether or not to actually step up and call this civil war. What is the role of the special police, the Iraqi special police, in helping to curb all of this violence?

DAMON: Well, Heidi, they fall under what is overall called the Iraqi security forces. Now, each does have essentially its own specialized area, but for the most part, what a lot of Iraq's security forces are focusing on right now is just establishing security.

When it comes to the police force, though, we are seeing this great shakeup within the Ministry of Interior, which controls the Iraqi police. And this came after the new minister of interior took over, Jawad Balani (ph). He took over some five months ago and promised to shake up the Ministry of Interior.

It has come under sharp criticism and accused of having been infiltrated by militias and death squads. They have promised to clean up this ministry, promised to clean up the Iraqi national police so that the Iraqi people can then start to have faith in them.

What we have seen happen is that two brigades were dissolved, their commanders removed from duty, given posts elsewhere within the ministry. Plus, some 3,000 commandos and employees of the ministry were fired, based on charges ranging from corruption, bribery, violation of human rights, and being unable to perform their duty -- Heidi.

COLLINS: All right. Arwa Damon live to us this afternoon -- or this morning, I should say -- from Baghdad.

Thank you, Arwa.

HARRIS: And more finger-pointing at Pakistan from Afghanistan's leader. President Hamid Karzai tells The Associated Press Mullah Omar, the Taliban's supreme leader, is hiding in Quetta, Pakistan. He also blames Pakistan for surging Taliban violence in Afghanistan and calls on the Pakistani leader to do more to crack down on militants. From Pakistan's government, a blunt rejection of Karzai's claims.

And talk about a blunt assessment on Afghanistan, the former commander of British forces in that country, Brigadier Ed Butler, says international troops may have to stay in Afghanistan for the next 20 years. In the short term, he warns the Taliban may regroup over the winter and come back even stronger next year. Butler says British forces are having to make up for time lost to the Iraq war instead of concentrating on Afghanistan. Butler has just returned home to Britain after giving up his command in Afghanistan.

COLLINS: The scandal over explicit e-mails, then the claim he was abused by a priest. Now ex-congressman Mark Foley says he'll reveal the identity of his alleged abuser. His attorney says it will prove Foley isn't just making excuses for his behavior toward pages.

Details from National Correspondent Susan Candiotti.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Whether he can prove it is one thing, but Mark Foley's attorney wants skeptics to know his client's allegations are not trumped up.

GERRY RICHMAN, FOLEY'S CIVIL ATTORNEY: It's going to be very clear in the coming days that it is a fact, as opposed to any possible allegations that it's a fantasy or something made up for political purposes.

CANDIOTTI: It was about two weeks ago that Foley first made his bombshell allegation.

DAVID ROTH, FOLEY'S CRIMINAL ATTORNEY: Mark has asked that you be told that between the ages of 13 and 15 he was molested by a clergyman.

CANDIOTTI: But who is the alleged molester and where is he now? The archdiocese wants to know. It says Foley's claims have put a cloud of suspicion over all its priests.

MARY ROSS AGOSTA, ARCHDIOCESE OF MIAMI: Common sense must come in here that we need to know who it is prior to us being able to provide the counseling for that person.

CANDIOTTI: Foley's lawyer says he'll turn over the name at the right time in a "sensitive way."

RICHMAN: Mark Foley is intending to work with the Archdiocese of Miami and greater West Palm Beach for the purpose of revealing the name of the particular priest who is involved so that the archdiocese can then deal appropriately with the issue.

CANDIOTTI: Foley grew up in south Florida. As a youngster, he served as an altar boy. He attended Catholic grade school and high school, but later transferred to a public high.

Foley's lawyer says he's talked with the Palm Beach state attorney's office, but no criminal charges will be filed, the allegations are too old. The alleged abuse happened more than 35 years ago, well past the statute of limitations.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: Susan Candiotti joining us now live from Miami.

All right, Susan. So do we -- do we have any idea yet who would actually release the priest's name if it came out, the archdiocese or Foley's attorney?

CANDIOTTI: It appears that it would be coming from the Miami Archdiocese. Its spokeswoman here says that church guidelines require the archdiocese to reveal this name, both to protect potential victims out there so in order that they can come forward, in order to prevent other people from possibly being molested, if in fact these allegations are true.

All we know about this priest is that he's alive at this point. We don't know whether he is still practicing.

COLLINS: Yes. So that means there's no civil lawsuit, and that's why the archdiocese would be the one to release the name?

CANDIOTTI: That's right. This morning, the attorney representing Mr. Foley says there will be no civil lawsuit. He claims this is not about money. He says this is about healing.

COLLINS: All right. Susan Candiotti, live from Miami.

Thanks, Susan.

HARRIS: Timing is everything, it seems. One congressman says check the calendar. Campaign season scandal, that story straight ahead in the NEWSROOM.

COLLINS: And winning over voters in the heartland.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This race will be decisive in determining who controls the United States Senate in the next term.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: It's a race to watch. CNN's John King reports from Missouri coming up in the NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: Let's get the latest now on the story of a Kentucky mother wanted for kidnapping.

Fredricka Whitfield is following this story for us in the NEWSROOM.

Hi, Fred.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, Tony.

Well, the question is, might a video captured at a gas station help police find the couple and that 9-month-old baby missing since Monday? The abduction, now, took place in Henderson, Kentucky, after the social worker who was caring for baby Saige Terrell was beaten to death. Her body, that of Boni Frederick, found on Monday there in Henderson, Kentucky.

We're showing you the map because police are now examining video captured across state lines out of Smithboro, Illinois. Let's show you the videotape that they are examining.

It shows a vehicle that fits the description of the vehicle that this couple may be traveling in. Twenty-three-year-old Christopher Luttrell is believed to be stepping out of that vehicle on the passenger side and using a credit card to buy gasoline. Police believe that Christopher Luttrell and 33-year-old Renee Terrell have the 9-month-old baby right there, Saige Terrell, and that they left together after that social worker was bludgeoned to death, actually at the home of Renee Terrell.

Renee Terrell was visiting her baby because the baby is in the custody of the social worker because of a history of neglect. And you're looking at the crime scene of what took place as of Monday.

Well, now as promised, Tony, I have that phone number if anyone has any information about the couple or perhaps even the vehicle, or that 9-month-old baby. They're being asked to call 1-877-AMBER-17. That's the Kentucky Amber Alert number which to call, or you can call Henderson police directly at 270-827-8700.

And perhaps this might help, this bit of information. Police are looking for a 2000 white Daewoo Nubira. That was the vehicle that you saw pulling up to the gas station.

It's a four-door station wagon, and the license is 675-DRV. Now, this is tag information that they didn't get from the video camera but tag information they had prior. They, of course, wish they had it also on this videotape.

But that's the latest -- Tony.

HARRIS: OK, let's -- yes, let's see if we can get some action on this, get some tips to that number there. I mean, this is, what, a 9- month-old baby? The baby needs diapers, food, milk, and clearly if we can get some action on this, maybe...

WHITFIELD: And it's a special needs baby.

HARRIS: Yes.

WHITFIELD: So that baby needs a lot of other things, too.

HARRIS: And this couple is out there. So maybe we can get some tips going here.

Fred, appreciate it. Thank you.

COLLINS: A liberal attack, the charge from one Republican congressman. He's under investigation just three weeks from Election Day.

CNN's Joe Johns with the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOE JOHNS, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's the last thing the GOP needs right now, with the election three weeks away, a Northeast Republican in a razor-close race, a big news story about a federal investigation into whether he steered millions of dollars to his daughter's company.

It comes at a time when Republicans are desperate to get back on message, after scandalous revelations about Mark Foley, Bob Ney, Randy Cunningham, Tom DeLay, all Republican members of Congress.

Weldon says he hasn't done anything wrong, and his daughter hasn't either. Weldon is raising questions about the timing of this.

REP. CURT WELDON (R), PENNSYLVANIA: It is a difficult one. I would not have wished this on anyone. And, three weeks before the election, it makes the campaign that much more difficult.

JOHNS: He's not blaming the FBI or The Justice Department, but suggests that Democrats have forced the FBI's hand.

One problem: The investigation is being handled not by Democrats, but by the Republican Justice Department. And Bob Barr, a former Republican congressman who once held office as a United States attorney, said, investigators try to ignore the political calendar.

BOB BARR, FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: They are to follow the evidence when it leads them, where it leads it, at the appropriate time. And they are not to hold back on an investigation or the execution of a search warrant simply because it might be near an election.

JOHNS: The difficulty for Weldon and his party is clear to all.

WELDON: It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that this district could swing control of the Congress.

JOHNS: Weldon's is hardly the most serious case, given all that has happened this year. But the fear is that the drip, drip, drip of accusations against Republicans could turn into a flood that costs them in close races.

BARR: The danger is, and what ought to be troubling Republicans is, that I think many voters have already tuned them out. They have witnessed, over the last two years, a succession of scandals. JOHNS: A big danger for Republicans, because, if their core voters stay home in tight contests like this one in Pennsylvania, it is almost as bad for them as a vote for the Democrat.

Joe Johns, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COLLINS: Well, Republicans not the only ones battling ethics questions. The top Senate Democrat is juggling a couple himself.

CNN Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash has that story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Democratic Leader Harry Reid lives in this Ritz-Carlton in Washington. At Christmastime, the senator gave doormen and other employees $3,300 in tips over three years. A generous gesture, but the money from Reid's campaign coffers, a possible violation of election law.

SHEILA KRUMHOLZ, CENTER FOR RESPONSIVE POLITICS: You do not use campaign donations for personal use. And tipping your doormen or, you know, the condo association just doesn't pass the smell test.

BASH: Reid said his lawyers had assured him it was OK because of the extra work that comes with having a Senate leader in the building. But to be safe, he says he's "reimbursing the campaign from my own pocket."

Damage control for the Senate's top Democrat, under fire for potential ethics violations three weeks before an election in which Democrats are slamming Republicans for a so-called culture of corruption. The Nevada Democrat is also battling questions about a Las Vegas land deal that earned him $700,000 in 2004.

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MINORITY LEADER: I bought a piece of land, sold it six years later. Everything was reported. It was all transparent.

BASH: Reid did report to Congress he owned the land and paid taxes on it, but he did not disclose that three years before selling it, he transferred ownership to a limited liability corporation. Aides say the senator wanted to develop the land and made that transfer for legal protection. Reid now says he'll amend four years of ethics reports to be more transparent about the deal.

KRUMHOLZ: I would expect that a person who's been in Congress as long as Harry Reid has been would know better to -- to provide as complete a picture as possible.

BASH: For a GOP under siege by scandal from Mark Foley to new revelations about Congressman Curt Weldon, Reid's troubles give Republicans ammunition to return fire on the campaign trail. Like on this Tennessee radio show... DAN RONAYNE, NATIONAL REPUBLICAN SENATORIAL COMMITTEE: Harry Reid said this whole campaign's going to be about ethics. I think the voters can fairly look at that and say there's some hypocrisy there.

BASH (on camera): When voters are asked which party is more ethical, they say Democrats, but by a pretty slim margin. And one pollster says new reports of scandal in either party probably won't sway voters much because other issues are shaping the election.

ANDREW KOHUT, PEW RESEARCH CENTER: Iraq, the economy, health care, and a sense that the country's not on the right course are the major reasons. And President Bush himself and discontent with his administration are the reason the Republicans are in big trouble.

BASH (voice over): A growing number of voters, he says, are sour on Republicans, but they're not doing handstands over Democrats either.

Dana Bash, CNN, Capitol Hill.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIS: The good and bad under the sea. New guidelines for fish and how much or how little you should be eating. Find out straight ahead in the NEWSROOM.

You're watching CNN, the most trusted name in news.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: We're over there. Now we're over here.

COLLINS: Isn't it amazing? Cameras everywhere. But now we are in the weather center, because there's a lot going on.

Houston, boy, they are in a world of hurt, it seems. It keeps coming.

MYERS: And not only them, but right up through into Louisiana. We focused on Houston because that's where we got video.

COLLINS: Right.

MYERS: But if you live anywhere from Houston to Shreveport, that's like 10 inches in that entire swathe.

COLLINS: People forget, like, how much that is and how nasty it can be and the problems it causes.

MYERS: What do you do with 10 -- if it rains that much in four hours, it has nowhere together. It goes into the lowest spot in the water. It goes up.

Here are some of the pictures from yesterday, still. Water still draining off. You'll want to stay out of that water if you can. I know if you have to move, you have to move, but -- I mean, we even had some pictures, some I-Reports of people in the water, and the signs still had power. There was still electricity around them in the water.

So do what you can to keep yourself alive, obviously, but don't be over -- overly optimistic about walking in water anytime. You don't know how deep it is. But if you have -- if you have a wrapped (ph) up Camaro like this, then I guess you could do what you want.

Just jack it up another 45 inches and you'll be able to go anywhere. Although the car still floats away if the water gets too high.

We do have rain showers expected today around Houston, also into Louisiana. But not as much as we had yesterday or the day before.

They are stacking up some airport delays now, Atlanta, Houston, LaGuardia and Philadelphia, all between 25 minutes and 45 minutes. But not major delays like yesterday. When I arrived here this morning there were still people waiting for planes that hadn't taken off from yesterday yet.

Scattered rain showers and thunderstorms along the cold front. That's the same area that actually saw the weather yesterday. And that cold front will slide a little bit farther to the south, and that farther to the south will cause more showers.

Look at this. Look, you go from 81 in Dallas, 46 in Kansas City. That's a cold front. They get bigger and bigger and they get stronger and stronger as the winter goes on.

Back to you guys.

COLLINS: Forty-three in Denver. Snow.

MYERS: It was snowing yesterday.

HARRIS: You are so ready.

MYERS: Yes.

HARRIS: Should I buy you the ticket now?

COLLINS: Yes, please.

HARRIS: Yesterday?

COLLINS: That would be very nice.

Thank you, Chad.

HARRIS: Thanks, Chad.

MYERS: You're welcome.

HARRIS: Still to come, China one of the next stops for Secretary Rice. A political minefield seen through the eyes of a former U.S. diplomat. He's ahead in the NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

HARRIS: The archdiocese says it is ready to offer counseling once the alleged abuser is identified.

The good and bad under the sea. New guidelines for fish and how much or how little you should be eating. Find out in the NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: Daily Dose now and problems with prescription drugs. A new report says as many as 700,000 people a year end up in the emergency room because of bad reactions to their prescriptions. Most often they're allergic reactions or accidental overdoses. These three drugs, the blood thinner warfarin, insulin and the heart medicine, digoxin -- I hope I said that correctly, digoxin -- Account for one- third of drug-related visits for people over the age of 65. And this from the study's lead author. The huge numbers point to a need for health care providers to keep a much closer eye on their patients.

HARRIS: OK, we all know that eating fish is a good way to eat healthy, but can you have too much of a good thing?

CNN senior medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta sets some limits.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A new study by the Institute of Medicine found that eating seafood twice a week has important health benefits, including reduced risk of heart disease and improved development of the brain.

Seafood is high in protein, low in saturated fat, and loaded with omega 3 fatty acids. But there is a catch. Most fish contain some level of dioxins, PCBs and mercury. Mercury is of particular concern because it's known to impede brain development. That presents a quandary for pregnant women and young children about exactly how much fish to eat.

DR. WILLIAM HOGARTH, NAT'L. OCEANIC & ATMOSPHERIC ADMN.: We learned that the benefits of cardiovascular health, from eating seafood, including farmed fish, far outweigh the risks of cancer from environmental contaminants.

GUPTA: The study says women who could become pregnant and young children can eat up to 12 ounces of seafood a week without being concerned about mercury. Six ounces can be canned white tuna, although canned white tuna usually contains less mercury. They should avoid fish high in mercury, like shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tile fish.

MALDEN NESHIEM, INSTITUTE OF MEDICINE: Those who consumer more than two servings a week, should choose a variety of seafood to reduce risks for exposure for contaminants from a single source.

GUPTA: There's also more evidence this week that fish reduces the risk of heart disease. Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health found just eating one to two servings of fish a week reduces the risk of death from heart disease by 36 percent.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIS: To get your "Daily Dose" of health news online, you can log on to our Web site. You'll find the latest medical news, a health library and information on diet and fitness. The address, CNN.com/health.

COLLINS: Winning over voters in the heartland.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This race will be decisive in determining who controls the United States Senate in the next term.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: It's a race to watch. CNN's John King reports from Missouri ahead in the NEWSROOM.

And thanks to out of touch politicians, more Americans than ever are living in poverty, without health care and paying more for housing and public education. So tonight at 7:00 Eastern, Lou Dobbs demands answers, live from Kansas City for a one-hour special event, "WAR ON THE MIDDLE CLASS." You can see it right here on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: "YOUR WORLD TODAY" coming up at the top of the hour. Jim Clancy here now with a preview. Morning, Jim.

JIM CLANCY, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you, Heidi and Tony. You know, more U.S. soldiers reported -- deaths reported in Iraq. The numbers are spiking. We're going to take you on a patrol. They remain very much on the job this day. This will really open your eyes. You'll see how they take aim at roadside bombs.

Plus we'll go over to Britain, where a double standard is being questioned about Muslim protesters. Some in Britain say society seems to willing to tolerate threatening language outside Christian churches, while others seem to be running afoul of the law, they say, for being politically incorrect.

And we're going to take to you to India, as well, where they're outsourcing more than just your telephone technical support. Satinder Bindra will have a report on the growing international market in surrogate motherhood.

Heidi and Tony, that's all coming up. That's part of YOUR WORLD TODAY.

COLLINS: Interesting. All right, Jim, thanks.

(BUSINESS HEADLINES)

HARRIS: Well, midterm elections. We keep saying this because it's coming up. They are just a couple weeks away. Three, in fact, as the nation counts down. Both sides are counting up the seats needed to control Congress. One race to watch is in Missouri.

CNN's chief national correspondent John King reports from Kansas City.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you turn your forms in? If you've filled out a 72-hour form...

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: (voice over): Southwest Missouri is conservative country, the Bible Belt. The stakes of this year's Senate race lost on no one.

GARY NORDLER, MISSOURI STATE SENATOR: This race will be decisive in determining who controls the United States Senate in the next term.

KING: Introduction over, incumbent Republican Jim Talent quickly draws distinctions he thinks will make a difference in these parts.

SEN. JIM TALENT (R), MISSOURI: I believe marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman.

(APPLAUSE)

TALENT: And so I supported the Marriage amendment to the United States Constitution. My opponent didn't. I supported the ban on partial-birth abortions. She's opposed to that.

CLAIRE MCCASKILL, STATE AUDITOR: Go Cardinals.

KING: State auditor Claire McCaskill lost a close race for governor two years ago, but those big margins in St. Louis and Kansas City are not enough to offset a dismal showing in rural communities.

MCCASKILL: Big mistake. I've been to rural Missouri constantly in this race. I've listened. They're frustrated.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you have a moment I can ask you a couple of questions?

KING: At GOP headquarters in conservative Joplin, calls to Republican voters do turn up evidence some are looking elsewhere this time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you support Senator Jim Talent or auditor Claire McCaskill for the United States Senate? McCaskill? OK.

KING: At Joplin's First Presbyterian Church, Pastor Cliff Mansley predicts talk of major conservative angst will be proven wrong come Election Day.

REV. CLIFF MANSLEY, PASTOR, FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH: There are going to be some people who are frustrated with what they see, but I think that's a fairly small percentage of people in terms of how they vote.

KING: But in this race and similar Senate contests in Ohio, Virginia, and Tennessee, just a small shift in rural communities could be enough for Democrats. And Talent's sharpening attacks reflect GOP jitters.

At a debate Monday night in conservative Springfield, he demanded McCaskill release her husband's tax returns.

TALENT: And we have reason to believe that maybe she and her husband haven't paid all of them.

KING: McCaskill called it desperate smear.

Four years ago, Talent and the president campaigned shoulder to shoulder in southwest Missouri. This year, not one mention of Mr. Bush in the senator's 15-minute stump speech.

TALENT: Because I'm -- I'm -- he's not running in the race.

KING: It's one of those little differences that could affect the margins in the Bible Belt and the balance of power in Washington.

KING: So consider Missouri the Republican Senate firewall. The GOP figures if it can hold this seat, it is all but certain to hold its Senate majority. And as a result is pouring in significant resources for late-campaign TV ads and an aggressive voter-turnout effort.

John King, CNN, Kansas City, Missouri.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARRIS: John King is part of the best political team on television, and he will be joining Lou Dobbs tonight from Kansas city for his special townhall meeting called "War on the Middle Class." That's at 7:00 Eastern, only on CNN.

COLLINS: But you know what's coming up very shortly.

HARRIS: Back in the NEWSROOM, 1:00 p.m.

COLLINS: That's right, Kyra Phillips, Don Lemon.

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: We're the best team in the CNN NEWSROOM.

HARRIS: Flat out. Flat out.

PHILLIPS: Guys, so the difference between Sunni and Shiite. Yes. I'm going to put you on the spot. COLLINS: I know the difference.

PHILLIPS: Oh, you do?

COLLINS: Mohammed.

PHILLIPS: All right, this is what we're going to talk about today, folks. As fighting between the two religious groups intensifies in Iraq, well, you must be shocked at how little American policymakers understand the role of religious differences in the war on terror. Wait until you see what a reporter revealed about what our leaders in this country have to say, or don't say about it.

And would God want to you vote Republican or Democrat? Evangelicals have traditionally voted Republican, but with the Foley scandal and a new book on the White House and religious voters, could that group be up for grabs in November? We're going to talk with two political active ministers about which party has a prayer of winning. Join Don Lemon and me at 1:00 Eastern Time right here in the CNN newsroom.

HARRIS: See you then, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right, we'll be watching. Thank you.

HARRIS: Now hitting store shelves, a video game. Your kids may be begging for come Christmastime. But is it setting a dangerous example? Well, decide for yourself.

PHILLIPS: And this Picasso? Not exactly on the market anymore. After a little multimillion-dollar -- oops! The unartful mishap coming up in the NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: Just in time for holiday shopping, a new video game, and a new debate about violence. There's more at play in "Bully" than the name of the game.

CNN's technology correspondent Daniel Sieberg takes a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DANIEL SIEBERG, CNN TECHNOLOGY CORRESPONDENT, AMERICAN MORNING (voice over): More than a year before "Bully" hit store shelves, protesters gathered outside the offices of the company behind the game.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These games are training our children how to be criminals, directly opposite, our children are being trained to be killer, murders, rapists, drug users, drug dealers, et cetera.

SIEBERG: Lawyer Jack Thompson has not yet played the game "Bully" but contends it could lead to student violence.

JACK THOMPSON, ATTORNEY: This is a Columbine simulator by virtue of the fact that it brings into play the bullying dynamic that we've seen at Paducah, Columbine, and other school shootings and massacres.

SIEBERG: But the game is actually devoid of any guns and players are encouraged to fight bullies and protect the weaker kids. Game Creator Rockstar released this statement.

"We'll never convince everyone, but we hope people will enjoy the story in "Bully" as much as they enjoy similar stories in books, plays and movies."

Like Ralphie taking on the yellow-ed bully in "A Christmas Story", some game reviewers agree.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's no gore, there's no blood. Most of it is done -- it's comic mischief, it's more "Breakfast Club" than "Grand Theft Auto".

SIEBERG: The controversial "Grand Theft Auto" series is also made by Rockstar Games. But in "Bully," players use their fists, a slingshot and throw firecrackers. Critics say the two games still have a lot in common.

THOMPSON: To suggest that that's not a violent game is to suggest that a revolver is not dangerous because it has only has six rounds in it.

SIEBERG (on camera): Thompson filed a lawsuit in Florida trying to stop the sale of the game, which is rated for players, age 13 and up. But the judge in the case rejected his request, saying "Bully" is violent, but no more so than your average night on television.

(Voice over): The decades-old fight over violence in video games won't be decided by a bully. That doesn't mean parents should let down their guard over what their kids are doing in the schoolyard, both virtual and real.

Daniel Sieberg, CNN, Atlanta.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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